• How to Talk to a Science Denier

  • Conversations with Flat Earthers, Climate Deniers, and Others Who Defy Reason
  • By: Lee McIntyre
  • Narrated by: Eric Michael Summerer
  • Length: 8 hrs and 32 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (79 ratings)

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How to Talk to a Science Denier

By: Lee McIntyre
Narrated by: Eric Michael Summerer
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Publisher's Summary

"Climate change is a hoax - and so is coronavirus." "Vaccines are bad for you." These days, many of our fellow citizens reject scientific expertise and prefer ideology to facts. They are not merely uninformed - they are misinformed. They cite cherry-picked evidence, rely on fake experts, and believe conspiracy theories. How can we get them to change their minds and accept the facts when they don't believe in facts? In this book, Lee McIntyre shows that anyone can fight back against science deniers, and argues that it's important to do so. Science denial can kill.

Drawing on his own experience - including a visit to a Flat Earth convention - as well as academic research, McIntyre outlines the common themes of science denialism, present in misinformation campaigns ranging from tobacco companies' denial in the 1950s that smoking causes lung cancer to today's anti-vaxxers. He describes attempts to use his persuasive powers as a philosopher to convert Flat Earthers; surprising discussions with coal miners; and conversations with a scientist friend about genetically modified organisms in food. McIntyre offers tools and techniques for communicating the truth and values of science, emphasizing that the most important way to reach science deniers is to talk to them calmly and respectfully - to put ourselves out there, and meet them face to face.

©2021 The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (P)2021 Tantor

What listeners say about How to Talk to a Science Denier

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    4 out of 5 stars

Well worth a listen, good info and some flaws

This is s timely book with very useful information on how to approach a science denier. This information is illustrated through the use of both facts and interesting anecdotal stories. Unfortunately, the book ended somewhat abruptly. It would have been very helpful to have had an additional chapter with a simple summary of the main points in the book. This was my first exposure to this author, and I look forward to reading and/or listening to some of his other writings.

A little background on me will put the rest of my comments in context. I hold a graduate degree in a hard science as well as an MBA. I have worked in multiple industries including environmental engineering, healthcare, technology, and finance - both on the technical and business sides. Politically I am a moderate.

This book would have been more useful and effective in its message if the concepts of logic, the scientific method, and evidence-based decision making had been applied in a more structured manner and the rhetoric around politics toned down significantly. (I say this even though I personally agree with just about all of the political comments he makes.) There are places where the political messages drown out the messages about how to talk to a science denier, which is what the book title says it is supposed to be about. There are also places where the author's strong political feelings caused him to make some of the very same logical mistakes that science deniers make - which, in a strange way, supports his arguments about how self identity and emotions sometimes make it challenging to base our beliefs on facts. In spite of these flaws, I'm glad I listened to this book and recommend it.

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Somewhat repetitive. Could have been half as long.

The overall message of this book is excellent. The narration is great, and the anecdotes are the best part.

But the key lessons could have been reduced to much fewer repetitions.

1 person found this helpful

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Almost persuaded, but…

Very well written and conceived, but I was skeptical about engaging science deniers before the book, and not quite convinced I want to work that hard after listening to the reasons I should care. Yes, I am older, set in my ways, and perhaps not the target audience (maybe too cynical/jaded to believe it’s possible.)

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This is an amazing and necessary book

This is a great and relevant breakdown of different types of science denial and how to approach each type of person with the goal of reaching them through interpersonal connection and honestly, nothing has ever been more relevant. I'm super pumped to apply these things to my conversations with people.

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“Why people are science deniers” is a better title than how to talk to them

Eh. Doesn’t rank for good conspiracy psychology content. This book covers how people fall into it and the 5 tropes of denialism. It doesn’t really cover HOW to talk to science deniers.

I found the chapters on GMOs very black-and-white in a book that is trying to sell us as a society to embrace-the-grey/uncertainty. The GMO chapters (approx 2 hours of the book) were so dismissive that it makes me wonder how emotionally charged the author is for the entire book.

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More entertaining than substantive

This is an entertaining but kind of unimportant book. I thought it would contain some new insight into the minds of science deniers. Like, a novel or at least well-researched theory of how and why people fall prey to conspiracy theories, etc. Instead, it contains some basic common knowledge like the formula for determining if something is science denial. It tells some funny stories about the author's personal experiences talking with these loony toons. But it's devoid of true investigative journalism or a rigorous scientific approach. Just a personal journey.

The author has his head on straight. but that's the best thing I can say about the book.

I liked it, but if you're looking for something substantive, keep scrolling.

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Exactly what I was looking for

I work in an office filled with conspiracy theorists. It is very depressing and disturbing to listen to them constantly talk about climate change, election frued, etc... Yes, a couple of them are Q's. I don't hate these people, and besides their theories, they are generally good people. I bought this book to better understand them and maybe even find a way to talk to them. This book was exactly what I was looking for.

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Great Read

In these polarized times, it’s good to get intelligent council on how to better deal with those that have a different “opinion” regardless if that opinion is based on propaganda, a sense of victim hood or some vast conspiracy. There is nothing more satisfying to America’s enemies, foreign and domestic than a divided people…

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Important Read

Great and informative book with helpful suggestions on how to reach those who have fallen for science denialism and misinformation. Excellent narration. Recommended!